Event Name Voices on Values – Do European policy makers understand how publics think about values?
Start Date 6th Dec 2019 3:00pm
End Date 6th Dec 2019 5:00pm
Duration 2 hours

Contestations in European politics are often portrayed as reflecting a deep sense of polarisation within publics across member states of the European Union. A gap between “progressives” and “conservatives”, “somewheres” and “anywheres” or “cosmopolitans” and “communitarians” is commonly assumed to exist and fuel political conflict. Many policy makers seem to position themselves within that spectrum. In the 2019 European Parliament elections, the opposing poles appeared to be represented by Emmanuel Macron on the one hand and Victor Orbán on the other hand.  

But how confident can we be that people genuinely are divided clearly along this line? Could their value conceptions actually be more complex? And to what extent do policy makers understand how publics actually construct their value sets in different EU member states? The Voices on Values project, conducted by Berlin based think tank d|part in cooperation with the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) and partners across Europe addresses these questions through original research. The project is based on a representative survey in Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, Italy and Greece and explores the meanings of societal and political values people hold. Additionally, we confronted political decision makers in elite interviews in all six countries and Brussels with the findings from our research to examine what dissonances between public and elite views exist.

The insights gained suggest that publics may not be as polarised as the political discourse amongst the elites, but that an emphasises of one-dimensional divides by political opinion leaders may actually cause deeper rifts. The understanding of values in publics is often more complex than assumed – with challenges for civil society actors aiming to promote open society values, but also opportunities for those who want to find common ground in wide parts of the public. While we find similar patterns across the countries studied, we also identify important differences in the role of particular values for how people view their current political systems.


Dr Luuk Molthof is a Senior Research Fellow at d|part and the head qualitative researcher for the Voices on Values project – a joint project between d|part and the Open Society European Policy Instititute (OSEPI) exploring people’s views on the open society and its values in 6 European countries. Since January 2019, Luuk also oversees the project’s research outputs. Luuk completed his PhD in Political Science at Royal Holloway, University of London. He holds an MSc in Modern Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford, an MA in International Relations from the University of Warwick, and a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Maastricht/University.

Dr Jan Eichhorn is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh. His researchers focusses on civic engagement and political participation on the one hand and heterodox understandings of economic and labour market policy on the other hand. In addition, Jan is a founding partner of d|part and the think tank’s research director. In addition to the research itself, Jan has engaged extensively in advising political institutions (such as parts of the German, UK and Scottish governments), civil society organisations and political foundations. He has also run a range of civic education workshops and programmes and has been a frequent contributor for print and broadcast media in several countries. Jan has a BA in Integrated Social Sciences from Jacobs University Bremen and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh.